If you’re looking for a show-stopping centrepiece for your next party or cookout, there are so many reasons to opt for a fruit platter. Fruit is clean and refreshing after a big meal, and your guests can mix and match their favourite fruits and choose their own portion size. A platter is quick and easy to prepare, but can look truly sensational. Pinterest and Instagram are full of beautifully-arranged fruit platters that are alive with every colour of the rainbow, from vibrant reds to zesty yellows and luscious purples
To make your own fruit platter, all you need is a cutting board, a good sharp knife and something to display your fruit on - most people opt for a large white platter or cake stand. Avoid patterned plates as these will compete for attention, and you want the fruit to be the star of the show. If you want to get creative, you can also use cookie cutters to make the fruit into attractive shapes.
The best fruit for a platter
To make your fruit platter the best it can be, variety is key. Keep things interesting with a range of contrasting colours, different sizes, shapes and flavours. The sunshine colours and interesting shapes of tropical fruits are always a crowd pleaser, as are the vibrant reds, blues and purples of berries and cherries. Stone fruit like peaches, plums and apricots add mellow sweetness in a range of pretty hues, while grapes and kiwi provide fresh greens.
Buy fresh, ripe seasonal fruit for the best flavour. Places like your local farm shop, fruit and vegetable stand or farmers’ market are likely to have the best quality seasonal produce, and speciality markets are the best place to look for tropical fruits. Fruit platters look best when they’re piled high, so make sure you buy plenty of fruit. Any leftovers can be frozen or made into delicious smoothies.
There are a few types of fruit you should avoid when creating a fruit platter, at least in cut or sliced form. Some fruit, particularly apples, pears and bananas, goes brown once it has been cut. This doesn’t mean they’ve gone off, or are unsafe to eat, but it doesn’t look great on a food platter. Some people try using a little lemon juice to prevent these fruits from browning, and while this does help a little, they will still go brown quite quickly. If apples, pears or bananas are particular favourites of you or your guests, try incorporating them into the platter whole, so they stay fresh.
How to arrange fruit
Old-style fruit salads are often served with the fruit mixed together all anyhow, which doesn’t make the most of all those beautiful colours. For maximum impact, group the same fruits together, but place each group next to one of a different colour. For example, you could create a block of red with a pile of fresh strawberries, next to the sunshine yellow of a diced mango. Arranging your fruit in this way also means that guests don’t have to pick through the fruit to get to their favourites.
You also need to pay some attention to the structure of your platter. If you’re going to be piling the fruit high, place firmer fruit like melon at the bottom, and pile delicate, squashable fruit like berries on top. To give your display some added height, try adding something with an interesting, architectural shape like a pineapple top or a bunch of grapes. For the finishing touch, garnish with sprigs of mint or edible flowers.
As well as the fruit, there are a few other items that need arranging. If you’re using dips, you can either add them to the plate and arrange the fruit around them, or place them around the edge of the platter. You also need to make sure there are plenty of napkins nearby, as well as a bowl or trash can for people to discard peels, pips, stems or stones.
Which fruits are in season and when?
When assembling a fruit platter, it’s essential to know which fruits are at their best at that time of year. Here’s a handy guide, as well as some other recipes to get your taste buds tingling.
Spring: grapefruit, kiwis, strawberries, mango and the classic spring fruit, rhubarb. With a distinctive sourness that complements sweet dishes well, rhubarb is a classic spring fruit. Check out this article for some easy recipes to try at home.
Summer: grapes, strawberries, papaya, guava and melon. Delicious just sliced and eaten on its own, melon also lends itself well to refreshing sweet and savoury side dishes, such as this melon salad with cucumber and feta cheese.
Autumn: apples, blackberries, pears, damsons and peaches. This easy recipe for a rye peach pie makes a wonderful late-summer or early-autumn treat.
Winter: citrus and tropical fruits. When it’s cold outside, it’s time to enjoy any summer fruits you’ve preserved for the winter or to look to more tropical climes. This classic pineapple upside-down cake will bring a taste of sunshine to the darker months.
How to cut fruit
Well-cut fruit makes a more attractive display, and you can add interest by mixing different sizes and shapes. Different fruits may require different techniques, and some can look almost impossible to get into, but they’re mostly pretty simple once you know how.
Some fruits don’t need cutting at all. Bite-sized fruits like berries, cherries and grapes are best left whole to keep them fresh, so all you need to do with these is to wash them well. You can separate the grapes into smaller bunches so make it easier for guests to take a few, then pile them all together so you still have the effect of one large bunch.
To cut large fruits like pineapple and melon, use a sharp knife to remove the top and bottom of the fruit and place cut-side-down on a cutting board. Next, use your knife to cut away the peel. If your fruit has seeds, like a melon, slice in half and scoop them out with a spoon. Cut the peeled fruit into slices and either serve like that, or cut each slice into bite-size pieces.
Citrus fruits always look best cut into their jewel-like segments. To do this, begin as above, by removing the top and bottom of the fruit, then placing the fruit on its end and peeling away the peel, as well as the bitter pith underneath. You should now be able to see the outline of each segment, and all you need to do is pull them apart.
Mangoes look great cut into a ‘hedgehog’ shape. You can do this by cutting away two thick slices on either side of the stone. Take each half and cut a crisscross pattern on the flat, inner surface. You should then be able to push up gently from underneath to form a hedgehog shape.
For more tips on how to cut pretty much any type of fruit you can think of, check out this ultimate guide to slicing fruit.
How long will it last?
Fruit is at its best when it’s fresh, so ideally you should prepare your fruit platter on the same day. You can slice your fruit the night before and store it in a covered container in the refrigerator, then all you need to do is arrange it the next day.
If you really want to take your fruit platter to the next level, offer your guests an array of delicious dips to go with their fresh fruit. Cream cheese and Greek yoghurt are both popular fruit dips, and can be sweetened using a little honey, maple syrup or marshmallow fluff. Creamy chocolate dips are also a big hit - try mixing your favourite chocolate hazelnut spread with some cream cheese and a little sugar for a simple chocolate dip.